RWO 104: Species distribution modeling and Native Fish Conservation Area prioritization to guide landscape level conservation
September 2021 - February 2025
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Freshwater fish species are highly imperiled organisms due to widespread alterations of freshwater habitats and flow regimes. Of 191 native freshwater fish in Texas, 48% are considered species of greatest conservation need (SGCN). Thus, integrated watershed scale conservation and management plans are needed to implement effective river conservation for multiple species simultaneously. The objectives of this project are to maximize conservation benefits using updated data and methods to: 1) Develop models to predict current species distributions and diversity, especially for SGCN, 2) Refine hierarchical spatial prioritization of Native Fish Conservation Areas by identifying areas of greatest conservation value with a focus on multi-species representation, and 3) Coordinate the use of supporting datasets and research products with conservation stakeholders. The project is a collaboration of agencies and scientists that includes Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the University of Texas, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Distribution models and spatial prioritization will be used to support and guide statewide conservation objectives and project planning within the Texas river conservation network.